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tv   Viewpoint With Eliot Spitzer  Current  October 1, 2012 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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aign is in need of a new strategy. some of the romney camp sees an opening. as written in the wall street journal. the biggest calamity for obama of course, the administration handling of the tragic attack after two weeks of tiptoe around a definitive answer, they released a statement saying that the attacks in libya from deliberate organized attacks carried out by extremists. >> intelligence community put
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out a lengthy document that explained the timeline here. i think in the days afterwards it was not clear that this was a terrorist attack as their investigation was conducted and they got more information. that's a determination that they made. >> eliot: some romney advisers think this is an area of weakness of obama upon which they should pounce. others say they should stay with the economy. joining me now former assistant to president clinton for national security affairs. thank you for joining us. >> a pleasure, eliot. >> eliot: let's start with the important question. what do we know about al-qaeda's attacks in the consulate in ben gassy. >> this was a well planned attack. somebody had been casing the consulate in benghazi for some time. whether they acted on the spur
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of the moment or if they had direction in outside of libya remains to be scene. >> eliot: the difficulty given the uncertainty and it's impossible to get your arms around all the facts very quickly. but the difficulty then is how do we then move in our evolving relationship with the new libyan government to control al-qaeda's presence and respect their sovereignty. where do we go in this evolving arab spring, in libya in particular. >> a lot of this takes time. building up a strong system of government, institution of government libya in particular build gadhafi never wanted an institution that would rival his him. every political faction within libya has weapons and obviously
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at least one of them or more used them on the consulate a few weeks ago. >> eliot: what i hear you saying, and what i think is critically important after the revolution after the sort we witnessed and facilitateed in lib y things evolve. and the president used the phrase, there will be bumps in the road. the arc of any evolution is that it evolves over time. diplomacy could be a problem when it is so needed. >> there is a strategy, turning the opposition that overthrew gadhafi into a functioning government and help that government blow a popular support--grow a popular support. that will take time. there is a strategy, but where romney gets it wrong is that
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that strategy will depend most significantly on what happens inside these countries. it's not about imposing a solution from the outside. >> eliot: i think for purposes of his campaign he wants to overstate and estimate the capacity to impose a government, and that speaks to his bellicose language in many contexts. there was obviously to put it mildly, an evolution in the characterization of the attack from early on to what we played a few moments ago. there seemed to be a flat-footed response. why not keep quiet early on when there is ambiguity. >> there is a fog of war and you're forced to react with the information that you have at the time. as you go forward any government will gain greater perspective a month from now from today. both the administration and the romney camp are in campaign
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mode, and you try to seize the opportunity and try to win every news cycle. that probably accounts for some of this. >> eliot: look, i have to say that i tried to pars out and discern the romney doctrine rather than the bellicose language, and i haven't been able to do it. have you been able to discern any romney doctrine? >> they see an opening--for example, what this has done is brought foreign policy front and center into the presidential campaign. i think romney is trying to put the president on the defensive. that will give some perhaps glancing blows in the upcoming debate but if he wants to move aggressively to talk about substantive foreign policy, he's moving into an area that the president believes he's stronger and foreign policy is one of those areas where the incumbent has greater advantages and we will a he hear it in the upcoming debates.
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g.m. is alive and obama that will work to the disadvantage of romney. he wants to talk about the economy, which i think is what he sees as the administration's weakenings. the more time he spends on foreign policy it takes him away from his core message. >> eliot: the issue of iran and the bomb that was in the news during the u.n. general assembly meeting, where are we on that. the president seems to be inching towards a demonstration towards a lack of patience, and the israeli view is that the time runs short. i mean, is this a matter of months where we need some resolution? >> well, i think there is some makings of a deal but it's going to take time, and to work
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on this. an example of where romney has rhetoric on iran, but when pressed what is his bottom line, it's similar if not identical president obama. >> eliot: p.j. crowley as always, thank you so much for your wisdom. >> my pleasure. >> eliot: tune in to current tv for our debate conscience where he'll be joined by cenk uygur governor grand home, john fugelsang and vice president al gore. join us here on current tv. but first, mitt romney is losing the david l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l
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>> eliot: back in session, the supreme court returns with a busy docket, but first trying to do math, and mitt romney was asked not so nicely to join david letterman on. we when it doesn't fit anywhere else, we put it on the viewfinder. >> the current president president obama was on the show last week. the challenger, mitt romney, has not been on the show. >> just vote on one issue. vote on the whole package. which one of the candidates will have the best package. >> i don't want to persuade anybody unnecessarily, but if he's not here in 39 days, don't vote for him. >> it is october 1st, and it is moon shine monday. [ cheering ] >> we heard a rumor that this was a dry campus. is it? >> but we came any way. >> we came any way. >> anyway, what are we now the
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election is 31 days? are we that close. >> it will be 37. >> 36 or 37 days. >> we're going underwater for the underwater walrus run. rush limbaugh with--i can't do the voice--conspiring to suppress voters. here is the underwater walrus himself. >> they're designed to do exactly what i have warned you to be vigilant about, and that is to depress you and to suppress your vote. >> the top reasons why mitt romney should appear on the late show. number five, cameras are hit hidden. number three the chance to win back the lazy free loader vote. >> michael was splashed with water by the political candidate who is under investigation by the fbi. >> i'm sorry to bother you. >> the number one reason why mitt romney should appear on the
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late show,down, john mccain once blew us off. how did that turn out? >> eliot: i love david letterman. they're back and they opened shop again to answer the constitution's (vo) what is said here could decide the election. current tv presents coverage of the presidential debate. with commentary. >> you're going to hear that used as a major talking point. (vo) the only network with real-time reaction straight from the campaigns and from viewers like you. >>now that's politically direct.
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>> eliot: after a summer off to smooth over tensions and frayed relations, the justices of the supreme court came back to work
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today. the entire nation watched after they. upheld the affordable care act. now they're back for another term of tough decisions and maybe frayed relationships. joining me now to make sense of it all, jeffrey rosen from george washington university legal affairs for the the new republic and you thorough of "the supreme court." thank you for joining us. >> good to be here. >> eliot: the supreme court could have been a reality tv show with the leaks and justice scalia and chief justice robertss going after it. are we seeing more of it now? >> you're right and justices are robert's best friend forever. that was right out of reality tv. it's not unusual. there have been finals when the court was at each other's throats than today, believe it or not. just as hugo black and johnson
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and it's been fractious before, but not for the last couple of years since bush v gore. >> eliot: which was a moment of tension and personal eveninginess among the justices. the cases this term as they always are uniquely important. affirmative action, something that is a staple to admissions to higher institutions under gradual assault until finally it is finally eliminateed. >> it is a possibility. and it's a hugely important case, as you say. at least four justices and really justice kennedy is the fifth who have expressed strong skepticism towards it. they question the landmark of
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cases from 1978 and 2003 allowing universities to use affirmative action, and they could pull the trigger here. it's possible they could come up with a narrower ruling. the issue is the university of texas having decided to admit graduates from the top ten percent from every texas high school can in addition to that once you pick the 10% plan to pick up your numbers of minorities you can't use the additional preference, there might be the vote to do the whole thing. >> eliot: something that is important to remember, justice o'connor who is up holding the affirmative action several years back did say in her opinion by 25 years from now this should be gone. this is a remedial effort to overcome a problem we're confronting in society but it should not go on forever which creates an intellectual opening for those who say enough is enough, and now may be the time. >> that's exactly right and several of the briefs note the statement, and pointed that
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things have not gotten better since 2003 and suggest that it's time to end affirmative action. it will be interesting to think of what will happen if the court does restrict owe amend affirmative action. universities are doing data mining to identify the neighborhoods that people come from and that will address the technological responses. >> cenk: the other possibility they could redefine the source of value in a way a corollary or similar to what you suggested, making it class-based opportunity based affirmative action rather than race based. we understand using race is something that we cannot sanction under the constitution, but whether someone has had the full range of opportunity presented to him or her. is that a compromised position? >> it is a possibility and universities like ucla have tried class-based affirmative action. the problem is it's not a
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perfect corollary forays and universities find that they admit poor white kids as well and don't find it's as effective as affirmative action in getting minority applications. >> eliot: same-sex marriage are there votes to the right of same-sex marriage or will that strike down some of the federal statute that prohibits marriage for same-sex couples. >> i think your second session will be more likely. people think the court is more likely to rule before it takes up same-sex marriage. just as anthony kennedy has been siding strong with gay rights, it's not clear by the obama administration position that all discrimination based on sexual orientation should be subjected to the highest scrutiny. that could be a tight hotly-
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hotly-fought case as well. >> eliot: where kennedy goes with the liberal views on the court and roberts go to the conservative, and roberts saying, who is turning coats on us now. >> he likes it to be the kennedy court and not the roberts court he'll be back to be in the role of swing votes but he'll be sure to anchor both the left and the right on gay marriage. >> eliot: who ever thought that justice kennedy would be viewed as the swing vote given how conservative they are, that shows you how far the spectrum has moved to the right. >> and the fact that kennedy would not listen to roberts on the healthcare case and roberts took it back and made it his own, we'll see if he keeps it the roberts court this term. >> eliot: editor of the new republic, thank you for your insights tonight. >> thank you.
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>> eliot: the mile high city of denver we'll preview the presidential debate, but as soon as we're off the air i'll participate in my own debate taking on glenn beck in the war of the words live from denver. you don't want to miss it. check out to find out where you can tune in. next, my take on the supreme court. that's ahead hershey's drops. a lot of hershey's happiness in little drops of milk chocolate. and cookies n creme.
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i don't after 18 years on death row for murder that he didn't commit. he joins us coming up. but right now let's check in with jennifer granholm in "the war room." what have you got for us tonight. >> jennifer: tonight we're going to do some myth busting or better put mitt busting romney claims the president will lie in the debates but we have done some fact checking. if there is anyone who has run fast and loose with the truth it's romney in the campaign.
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we'll get analysis and pre-debate strategy with alan schroeder, the author of " "presidential debates: 5 years of high-risk tv." that's right here right in "the war room"." >> eliot: that sounds great. we'll be watching. thanks our conversation is with you the viewer because we're independent. >>here's how you can connect with "viewpoint with eliot spitzer." >>questions, of course, need to be answered. >>we will not settle for the easy answers. a. >> eliot: the supreme court starts a new term today, beginning a year that will perhaps force it's resolve issues as diverse as the constitutionality of affirmative action, same-sex marriage, and range of fourth amendment issues that have percolated up through the criminal justice system.
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all of which reminds us that five is the most powerful number in the nation. five votes on the supreme court can pick a president recall bush v. gore. redefine our constitutional rights, think citizens united, and determine the constitutionality of a statute. think of the healthcare act of last june. maybe this is good news because the court over the past few years has proven to be the last refuges of decision making as congress and executive branches have proven themselves too often mired in gridlock and avoidance behavior that typify so many institutions. on the other hand the old mythology that the supreme court can depend upon a neutral analyst of legal principles to resolve these tough issues is more and more suspect. the court itself has been mired in ideological and partisan bickering. witness the acid tone of the four conservative justices in their dissent in the healthcare case. this partisanship and what i view to be the intellectual
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gamesmanship of those who erect false interpretive facades to justify the outcome oriented reasoning, detracts from the historic role of our final and most august deliberative body. the early 1900s, hostile to main form of collective action by workers, only in the 1950s blazing a trail for integration and recognition that separate is inherently unequal. and in the 1960s opening new vistas of civil rights for individuals. and now like much of the nation, polarized and often riven with disaffection while it tends towards what is viewed as conservative world view. the court over its history has given euphoric moments of progress and unfortunate stagnation of the status quo that is desperately needed
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shaking. but just for clear here's to hoping that justices breyer, ginsberg, society mayor kagan can find the fifth vote that they need to move us forward >>and now to my point. that is a whole bunch of bunk! the powerful my steal an election but they cannot steal democracy. home of the brave. ♪ ♪ it's where fear goes unwelcomed... ♪ ♪ and certain men... find a way to rise above. this is the land of giants. ♪ ♪ guts. glory. ram.
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>> eliot: call it a total and complete failure of the justice system. call it a modern day witch-hunt. call it anything but the way the legal system is supposed to work in this country. it's become a well-known story. in 1993 three children were brutally murdered in the woods of west memphis arkansas. three men who were later to become known as the west memphis three from arrested for the
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crime. the 18-year-old damian echols, 17-year-old jesse misskelley, and 16-year-old jason baldwin. the evidence against them? the forced confession of misskelley, a mentally challenged teenager, and the fact that damian and jason wore black and listened to heavy metal music. they took an alfred plea permitted the defendants to maintain their innocence but frees the state of significant risk that it will be sued for wrongfully convicting the individuals. joining me now damian echols who although innocent has been imprisoned for more than half his life. thank you for joining us. this is a tale of horror that should not happen in any civilized country let alone this one. thank you for joining us. >> thank you so much for having me.
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>> eliot: where did it go wrong? you liveed a horror tale of one after another. take us through the police, the prosecutors z it compile on top of one other. >> absolutely. after the ball started rolling no one wanted to admit that anyone made a mistake. even the dna evidence that came in saying that we were never at the crime scene and found that the dna matched two other men they said that's not enough. it's not good enough. we'll maintain this conviction. no one wanted to admit that they had messed up. >> eliot: it seems when you look back there was this blood thirst for vengeance after a horrific crime, and you were the easy one to point the finger at. how about the local media was there anyone in the media--i'm not looking for blame but did anyone stand up and say let's step back and examine this? >> not for a long, long time. in the beginning it was like a
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media feeding frenzy. every day when the paper came out, the news came on, you heard stories about satanic rituals and satanic orgies and all these sorts of things where they were trying to stir the community into an absolute frenzy, trying to make it as sensational as they possibly could. it was only years down the road when new witnesses came forth or dna evidence came out then they started to accurately report what was happening. but until then they just made it as sensational as possible. by the time we did walk into the courtroom by that point the trial was a formality that they had to go through to sentence us. >> eliot: i looked, and i have not dealt into this as many have but there was one coerced confession did your lawyers give you real representation? were they skilled in death penalty reputation?
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did they have the skills needed to build a defense for you? >> absolutely not. we had attorneys who had never dealt with a capital case before. they didn't have experience, they didn't know what they were doing, and severely underfunded. they worked in a tight-knit community where they had to work with the judge and prosecutors on a daily basis. they didn't want to push too hard. to them this was one case. they knew they would have to come back and work with these people on a daily basis and they didn't want to do anything that would make them too angry. they didn't want to try too hard. >> eliot: every bit of social pressure came down. they just pretended to give you good defense and you were just a small gear in the defense. you had a movie who was made and almost by happenstance, they decided to take a hard look at this. without that what would have
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happened? >> they would have murdered me. the state would have gotten away with murdering me. the only reason why i'm sitting here now is because the pressure was too great and there was too much of a public outcry, and they knew it would cost them if they didn't do something in this case. really they would have murdered me and never lost a night's sleep over it if not for that. >> eliot: tell us briefly a bit of that. tell us what life was like in prison? >> it's a hell beyond anything i could even begin to articulate. you know, it's a regular occurrence in there. you have beatings, staff aggravation, torture. starvation, torture. i'll probably spend the rest of my life trying to recover from this. >> eliot: did you give up faith? did you give up hope? you know what was written about
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the gulag in russia, did you lose faith. >> i lost faith in the system, but i didn't lose faith in the people who would write to me on a daily basis. people who would spread the word on website and wearing free the memphis three t-shirts. people who raised the money needed to get forensic testing done. everything that we went through completely robbed me of faith in the system. >> eliot: yes, you can't argue against your conclusion. the alford plea you took. there is a paradox there that you're pleading to something but of course everybody knows that's a formality. the state woke up and said we can't prove the case, we're not going to retrial, and they let you out. did that cause psychological tension for you? you didn't want to give them anything at all. they needed to confess their
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error? >> i knew they could drag this case out another five years ten years, constantly appealing for extensions. my health was deteriorating rapidly. the day i walked out of prison i you weighed 65 pounds less than i do now. i was losing my eyesight, i had many health problems and the prosecutor said that we could all collectively sue the state for $65 million. i knew i could be stabbed to death any day of the week in prison. it happens all the time. i knew if i didn't take that deal one way or another i wouldn't live listen inside those walls. >> eliot: you gave up your rights not to sue the state. >> that was their first question. would i sign away all my rights to sue the state of arkansas. >> eliot: you were put on death row, and then you had to give up your rights to sue the state to
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get out. >> that's what it comes down. >> eliot: i think it's fair to say why you would lose faith in the system. you look great compared, obviously. how has it been? >> it was rough. i was in solitary confinement for the last decade. so getting out here there was a lot of adjustment. i was in complete shock and trauma, and it has taken me a long time to come out of that and learn to navigate my way into society. >> eliot: you're living up in boston. >> salem yes right outside of boston. >> eliot: i don't want to draw any historical metaphors but salem, that's where they had the witch hunts. i'm not sure that that's where you want to go. >> that's why they have tolerance. me don'tthey don't want to make the same mistakes as before. >> eliot: thank you for joining us. good luck. man,
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